[All Photos by Emily Hingle]

Hanging Out At Hangout Ramen

15:46 July 08, 2024
By: Emily Hingle

Japanese Delights in NOLA

Hangout Ramen is a pretty place to enjoy a meal before the sun sets as you can watch the passers-by and streetcars roll down tree-lined Carrollton Avenue.

It stays open, however, until 10 p.m. on most evenings (11 p.m. Friday and Saturday) so that late-night eaters can get their fill, too. The welcoming restaurant allows for lots of natural light and outdoor vistas that this part of Uptown needs more of.

The first thing you notice at Hangout Ramen is an immense amount of choices. The big menu boasts ramen, sushi, rice and noodle bowls, salads, and hibachi; there's so much that you can eat here dozens of times and never have the same thing twice. The chef is also inventing specials to add even more menu items that makes it hard to choose.

After much deliberation, I started off with a Dirty Brown Sugar Milk Tea with Boba. The sweet drink hit the spot; the summer heat is starting to get the best of me, and I've been seeking out icy things to cool me off. I wondered if it would clash at all with the sumptuous items I was mulling over, but it only enhanced them. The Shrimp Dumplings were something that I've never tried before. The warm, bouncy balls of goodness nearly burst with pureed shrimp. They were way too big for one bite, yet they held together between multiple bites, which I found to be impressive.

Being a tofu fan, I wanted to try the Salt and Pepper Tofu which exceeded my expectations and may entice me back soon. The squares of tofu were almost like French fries: just crispy outside, steaming and soft inside, and dusted with salty seasoning. The veggies that they sat on were also dusted with the salt, pepper, and more seasoning, but the fresh veggies cut through the salt with a burst of moisture. There was also a sneaky heat to this dish that very much satisfied my desire for spice and made me reach for the Boba Tea a few times.

It's difficult for me to not get a seaweed salad when the opportunity arises. Hangout Ramen's Seaweed Salad was delightful as it was not fishy like some that I've had. The entangled vines provided crunch and a light flavor that cleansed the palate between the openers and the main event.

There's nothing more comforting than a big, hot bowl of soup. First up, the Curry Ramen blended Japanese cuisine with Indian flavors in a way that I've never experienced before. The additional garnish of grilled shrimp on a skewer seemed like a nod to the city that we're in. The steaming broth had a noticeable curry flavor, but it wasn't overpowering to the overall dish. The noodles resided in the bottom of the bowl, so one needed to forge through the large amount of fish cake, bamboo shoots, corn, green onions, and bean sprouts to grab some, and the noodles became embedded with these veggies upon exiting the broth.

I thought that a few pieces of Eel Kobayashi Sushi would go well with this soup, and I was correct. The rich flavor and deep chew of the two pieces contrasted with the brothy soup. I like mine with the rice well soaked in soy sauce, and just a half bite of each between the noodles was wonderful.

The second bowl of ramen was chosen because I've just never had ground beef in ramen before, and I wanted to experience it. The Tantamen Ramen has ground beef as its main feature, but the additions of bean sprouts, corn, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and egg made it an extremely filling meal. The pork-based broth created an overall rich flavor that coats the mouth and it lingers for some time. To me, this is the kind of ramen that I could eat for lunch and not want to eat dinner because I'm still full. This is a good quality when considering the cost of eating out these days. I honestly couldn't finish it, and it made a fantastic office lunch the next day.

To go along with the savory flavor of ground beef in pork broth, I bet on a complement of Smoked Salmon Sushi. This sushi is just lightly smoked; the salmon retains its delicate flavor with a note of smoke just underneath it. Just two pieces was the perfect amount for me not to get FOMO over not getting a sushi dish that I definitely couldn't finish alongside ramen.

Hangout Ramen's amount of options is unparalleled, and none of those options will disappoint.

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